With no fanfare or announcement, O'Reilly was credited as an executive producer on Fox's historical docu-series Legends and Lies on Sunday night. This was the third season premiere, and the first new episode of the series since 2016, before O'Reilly's various accusations had dwarfed his clout as a newscaster.
O'Reilly was ousted from Fox News after news broke last April that he had settled at least five sexual harassment lawsuits in his time on air. He had been accused of transgressions ranging from verbal abuse to sexual assault, and had reportedly paid over $30 million dollars to silence his accusers, according to The New York Times. In addition, he was accused of domestic violence by his daughter.
In addition to hosting The O'Reilly Factor for many years, O'Reilly had narrated the first two seasons of Legends and Lies. On Sunday's episode, Fox and Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade stepped in for the voice over, though some noticed O'Reilly's name as it crept back onto their screens.
A Fox News representative told The Wrap that the network had "not resumed a working relationship with O'Reilly," and said that production on the series had begun before the scandal broke. However, the network declined to specify how much O'Reilly or his Life of O'Reilly Productions company was paid for the new show.
The outlet also obtained an internal memo from Fox News leaders Rupert, James and Lachlan Murdoch, sent to employees in April of 2017. It showed a contradiction with their new production credit.
“After a thorough and careful review of allegations against him, the Company and Bill O’Reilly have agreed that Mr. O’Reilly will not return to the Fox News Channel,” the memo read. “This decision follows an extensive review done in collaboration with outside counsel.”
Many had already speculated that O'Reilly's departure had delayed the return of Legends and Lies. The first two season had aired in the spring of 2015 and 2016 respectively, while a full year went by without any new episodes. The accusations against O'Reilly came into prominence just as the third season would presumably have aired, and some speculated that the network was scrambling to salvage the show while wiping him out of it.
Legends and Lies features a close look at historical topics. This season gives an extensive look at the American Civil War.